A loop is an essential concept for any programming language, and VBA follows the same approach. You can use loops to repeat an action until a specified condition is reached, or move through objects in a group, e.g. all worksheets in a workbook. A loop is an essential concept for programming. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to create a VBA loop in Excel.

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VBA loops can be useful to automate tasks. For example, you may need to protect or unprotect every worksheet at once, iterate a calculation for a specific number of times, or loop cells and store their values into an array until you find an empty cell. The rest is up to your needs and imagination.

VBA has two main loop categories:

  • For…Next Loops
  • Do Loops

In generally, while For…Next loops are designed for specific amount of iterations, Do loops are good for iterating based on a condition. However, you can modify and configure both loop types by their individual keywords. Let’s see the loop types with examples.

For…Next VBA Loop

For…Next (also known as For) loops are where you start to create VBA loops in Excel. A For loop is a basic concept of a loop structure in all programming languages. A For…Next loop is good for if you want to iterate you code certain amount of times, and for when you need to use the counter. For example, if you want to check cells from A1 to A10, a counter clicks from 1 to 10 can work in that case. Let’s see its syntax and an example.

Syntax

For counter = start To end [ Step step ]
statements ]
Exit For ]
statements ]
Next [ counter ]

Part Description
counter Required. Numeric variable used as a loop counter. The variable can’t be a Boolean or an array element.
start Required. Initial value of counter.
end Required. Final value of counter.
step Optional. Amount counter is changed each time through the loop. If not specified, step defaults to one.
statements Optional. One or more statements between For and Next that are executed a specific number of times.

 

Example 1 – Basic Form

In the first example of For…Next loop, we attempt to write serial numbers into the cells in A1:A10. In this code, For…Next loop sets values from 1 to 10 into the variable i. After the variable gets its value, you can use it in the code. We used the variable to specify the row numbers and cell values. Finally, the Next row increases the variable’s row by 1, and cycle goes on until the variable is equal to 11.

Sub FillSerialNumbers()
    Dim i As Integer
    For i = 1 To 10
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
    Next i
End Sub

How to create VBA loops in Excel - For Next

Example 2 – Step

By default, For…Next loop increases its counter variable by 1 for each loop. You can change this property by using the step argument. To specify a step argument, use the Step keyword afterthe end argument and enter a number. Step can be either a positive or negative.

The following code is a modified version of the first example. Step 2 argument is added to loop. In this loop, the variable i can only take “1, 3, 5, 7, 9” values.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_Step2()
    Dim i As Integer
    For i = 1 To 10 Step 2
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
    Next i
End Sub

Remember to choose appropriate start and end arguments when you need to use a negative step value. For example, For I = 10 To 1 Step -1

Example 3 – Nested Loops

You can create loops within other loops. VBA executes all iterations in an inner loop, for each iteration of the outer loop. This type of structure can be helpful if you want add additional dimensions into your code. For example, while one loop is counting rows, other can count the columns. You need three loops to fill a three-dimensional data array.

The important point is using different counter variables for each loop. Otherwise, there will be leaps for the counter values. Let’s see an example for nested For…Next loops.

The following code contains 2 For…Next loops which is using variables named i and j. In the statement panel, i and j are used as row and column numbers respectively.

In the first run, i becomes 1 and j becomes 2. After code is executed in the j-loop, while i keeps its value (1), j becomes 3. This cycle goes on until j becomes 7. After this, i becomes 2 and j returns back to 2.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_Nested()
    Dim i As Integer, j As Integer
    For i = 1 To 10
        For j = 2 To 6
            ActiveSheet.Cells(i, j) = i * j
        Next j
    Next i
End Sub

Since j gets numbers between 2 and 6, only columns from B to F are filled.

Example 4 – Exit For

You may want to exit a loop when a certain condition is met. Let’s say we do not want to fill cells if i * j is more than 18. To achieve this, we can use Exit For statement.

The following code uses Exit For in the inner loop. Please note that, Exit For works for only the loop it’s in. Thus, when i * j > 18 condition is met, VBA continues to run the outer loop (i-loop).

Sub FillSerialNumbers_ExitFor()
    Dim i As Integer, j As Integer
    For i = 1 To 10
        For j = 2 To 6
            If i * j > 18 Then Exit For
            ActiveSheet.Cells(i, j) = i * j
        Next j
    Next i
End Sub

Example 5 – For Each

A For Each loop is a more specialized version of the For…Next loops. For Each loops can iterate for elements in a list. These elements can be values in an array, cells in a range, or worksheets in workbook. For Each loops doesn’t need a counter, each element is stored in a variable to be used in the code.

Let’s take another example. This time there isn’t a counter variable, but a range object c. For Each loop assigns each cell in the range “A1:C8” to element c, at each iteration. Also, since there is no counter value, we need to increase an integer by 1 in the code.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_ForEach()
    Dim c As Range, i As Integer
    i = 0
    For Each c In ActiveSheet.Range("A1:C8")
        i = i + 1
        c = i
    Next c
End Sub

How to create VBA loops in Excel - For Each

This is the last example for the For…Next loops of our how to create a VBA loop in Excel guide. Let’s now move on to the Do loops.

Do VBA Loop

A Do loop looks at whether a condition is met to continue cycling through, or stop a loop. Do loops are more flexible than For…Next loops. On the other hand, this flexibility comes with some complexities.

A Do loop starts with Do and finishes with Loop keywords. You can define a condition for one of these statements. If you specify a condition with Do, VBA looks at the condition first; otherwise, the code block in the loop is executed and the condition is evaluated at the end. This flexibility presents 2 syntaxes.

Also, Do loops can use While and Until keywords to specify the action when a condition is met. If you use the While keyword, the loop continues to work if condition is met. On the other hand, the Until keyword stops the loop.

Syntax

Do [{ While | Until } condition ]
statements ]
Exit Do ]
statements ]
Loop

Or, you can use this syntax:

Do
statements ]
Exit Do ]
statements ]
Loop [{ While | Until } condition ]

Part Description
condition Optional. Numeric expression or string expression that is True or False. If condition is Null, condition is treated as False.
statements One or more statements that are repeated while, or until, condition is True.

Example 1 – Do While

Do While loop iterates its statements as long as the specified conditions are valid. We can modify our first example to work with a Do loop.

In the following example, the Do loop works as many iterations as the variable i is equal or less than 10.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_DoWhile()
    Dim i As Integer
    i = 1
    Do While i <= 10
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
        i = i + 1
    Loop
End Sub

Caution: If you use a loop like this, remember to add a code to change the value of the variable. Otherwise, the code will be stuck in an infinite loop because the variable i will always remain less than 10.

How to create VBA loops in Excel - Do Loop

Example 2 – Do Until

This time the loop continues “until” the condition is met. Once it does, the loop ends.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_DoUntil()
    Dim i As Integer
    i = 1
    Do Until i > 10
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
        i = i + 1
    Loop
End Sub

Example 3 – Loop While

You can use conditions after Loop as well. In this scenario, you ensure that the statements are executed at least once before condition validation.

Loop While iterates the loop if the supplied condition is met.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_DoLoopWhile()
    Dim i As Integer
    i = 1
    Do
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
        i = i + 1
    Loop While i <= 10
End Sub

Example 4 – Loop Until

Use Loop Until statement when you need to check the condition after the statements, and want to continue the loop “until” the condition is met.

Sub FillSerialNumbers_DoLoopUntil()
    Dim i As Integer
    i = 1
    Do
        ActiveSheet.Cells(i, 1) = i
        i = i + 1
    Loop Until i > 10
End Sub

That’s all! You can now create your own VBA loop to automate your Excel tasks in no time.